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Shesterkin, Zibanejad the Keys to Another Rangers Win Over Flyers

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The New York Rangers have extended their point streak to 9 games against the Philadelphia Flyers (8-0-1) after winning their Black Friday affair by a score of 3-1. The loss also represented the 2nd straight for the Flyers after a 5-game winning streak.

The Rangers scored 2 goals in the first 113 seconds of the game off the sticks of Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider – 68 seconds apart. Zibanejad would add another goal in the 2nd period to give them a 3-0 lead before Sean Couturier found the back of the net near the end of the 2nd off of a deflection.

The Rangers – more specifically Igor Shesterkin – didn’t bend as they kept the Flyers off the board the rest of the way. Shesterkin made 36 saves for his 8th win of the season, while Hart made 16 stops on just 19 shots. The Flyers power play went 0/6 despite 13 shots on goal as another great goaltending performance stymies the offense.

After having their 5-game winning streak come to an end against the New York Islanders on Wednesday night, the Flyers welcomed the Rangers for a Black Friday afternoon clash to kick start the first game of a back-to-back set. The Flyers went with an unchanged lineup, meaning Marc Staal and Egor Zamula remained on the bottom pair, Morgan Frost and Louie Belpedio were the healthy scratches, and Carter Hart was between the pipes.

However, they made a few slight adjustments as Ryan Poehling was in between Cam Atkinson and Owen Tippett, Noah Cates was the third line centre with Joel Farabee and Bobby Brink as his wingers, and Scott Laughton returned to the fourth line after sitting the majority of the third period with Nicolas Deslauriers and Garnet Hathaway.

As for the visiting Rangers, they are sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with 27 points through 17 games with a 13-3-1 record. They entered today’s game with 8 wins in their last 10 games including a 1-0 shutout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. Igor Shesterkin returned between the pipes looking to improve on his 7-3-0 record, 2.60 GAA, and .908 SV% as backup goaltender, Jonathan Quick has provided fantastic goaltending behind the Russian phenom (5-0-1, 1.68 GAA and a .940 SV%).

Artemi Panarin started the season with a 15-game point streak where he scored 10 goals and 26 points but had been withheld off the scoresheet the last 2 games, Chris Kreider was tied for 2nd with Vincent Trocheck with 15 points, former Flyers defenseman Erik Gustafsson had 12 points in 17 games and is tied for 4th on the team with Alexis Lafreniere. Mika Zibanejad  had a slower start than usual as he sat with 2 goals and 11 points entering today.


As expected, Mika Zibanejad scored against the Philadelphia Flyers – again. From their own zone, the New York Rangers were able to quickly transition from defense to offense and scored the opening goal just 45 seconds in.

Chris Kreider dumped it out of the zone past Nick Seeler, which allowed Blake Wheeler and Zibanejad to hop on an odd-man rush with the former patiently waiting before passing it to the Swedish centre-man for his 3rd of the season and 1st in 9 games.

1:08 later and after winning the defensive zone draw, Travis Sanheim gifted Kreider a turnover right in front of Carter Hart who had absolutely no chance in stopping that slot-chance as he extended his team-lead in goals with 11.

Nicolas Deslauriers and Jacob Trouba got into things behind the Rangers goal, but the latter would not accept the former’s invite to drop the gloves. In fact, as Deslauriers was asking for a fight, Trouba made a bee-line and delivered a massive check on Garnet Hathaway. Hathaway who was irked then dropped the gloves with Barclay Goodrow. No penalties were assessed other than the coincidental fighting majors.

Down 2 and facing off against a vaunted Rangers power play, Joel Farabee was found guilty of a hooking minor with 12:36 remaining in the first period. The 14th-ranked penalty killing unit of the Flyers fended off a few difficult chances but kept the Rangers to the outside for most of it.

The Flyers finally woke up mid-way through the period and peppered Igor Shesterkin with 4-5 scoring chances – all of which were thwarted. A few moments later and entering the zone with speed, Owen Tippett was tripped up by Wheeler, sending the power play onto the ice looking to break the goose-egg on the scoreboard. Tons of passing, not many shots, another failed power play.

Hathaway must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning as he dropped the gloves for the 2nd time in the period with Will Cuylle after finishing a strong check on Ryan Lindgren along the boards. Cuylle was assessed a 2-minute instigator for jumping in as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

The Flyers registered one shot on goal near the end of the power play as they entered the 2nd intermission with a lot more momentum but trailed where it mattered, 2-o on the scoreboard. The Rangers registered 2 shots in the final 11+ minutes and only 1 in the final 8+.

The Flyers held a 12-7 shots advantage, were up 9-4 in the hit department, and tied 8-8 on the faceoff dot, but it was yet another Russian goaltender on top of his game who had all the answers to keep the Flyers off the board.


3:08 into the second period, K’Andre Miller was called for holding Sean Walker, sending the Flyers onto their 3rd power play of the afternoon.

Nothing doing on their third opportunity, but the temperature continued to rise shortly afterwards as it seemed the Rangers were seemingly goading Hathaway into his 3rd fight of the night – which would force him out of the game. Shesterkin even got a few shots in but the referee standing right in front of the pushing and shoving decided to keep his arm down and whistle at bay.

Once again, Zibanejad and the Rangers went from defense to offense in a flash, giving New York a 3-0 lead with 12:19 left to play in the 2nd period on just 10 shots on goal.

Gustafsson got it out of the zone to Zibanejad who then fed Wheeler just outside of the blue-line. Wheeler then sent a pass into the middle of the ice to the streaking Zibanejad who one-handed the puck over Hart’s shoulder for his 2nd of the game, 4th of the season and 18th career goal against the Flyers.

With 7:46 remaining in the middle period, Sanheim was called for a high-sticking minor. The Rangers came knocking a few times but were looking to get Zibanejad his hat-trick more so than making the right play.

The Flyers went almost 9 minutes without a shot on goal in the middle of the period, but the floodgates opened again as they continued to pepper Shesterkin. They came close a few times but finally, Sean Couturier was able to get one past the Russian netminder to get the Flyers on the board.

Further proving the importance of faceoff wins, after Couturier won the draw, Cam Atkinson got the puck to the point to Seeler whose one-timer was deflected by the veteran for his 5th of the season with 2:22 remaining.

Then with 41 seconds left to play in the period, Lindgren was called for a tripping minor. The Flyers ended up outshooting the Rangers 11-9 in the period and were up 23-16 through the first 40 minutes. The Rangers held a 21-18 edge on the face-off dot and the Flyers were up 18-6 in the hit department.

Of importance, Owen Tippett rode the pine for most of that period as he had just 6:55 TOI through 2 periods after Zibanejad blew right by him on his 2nd goal of the game.


After K’Andre Miller started a scrum at the end of the period with a clean hit on Brink, he and Walker received coincidental minors to begin the third.

The game started to really open up in the middle of the period with the Flyers all over Shesterkin. However, when he made the stops, the Rangers would clear the puck and somehow found themselves on odd-man rushes of their own. Nothing got past either goaltender, but with just under 12 minutes left, Gustafsson was called for a tripping minor.  The Flyers had a better showing but could not break Shesterkin.

Maybe the 6th time would be the charm after Nick Bonino shoveled a clearance attempt over the glass with 8:14 left to play? With the penalty winding down, Zibanejad found Kreider streaking all alone on Hart before he roofed one past Hart for his what seemed to be his 2nd of the day.

However, as the Flyers have done all season, they challenged the play for offside and had the call overturned with 6:31 left to play. The Flyers had 13 shots on 6 power play attempts but nothing to show for it.

With just under 3 minutes to play, Carter Hart was pulled for an extra attacker. They failed to fire a shot on goal as the Rangers collapsed in front of Shesterkin and either blocked everything in sight or forced the Flyers to try and make a perfect play.

That perfect play never came to be as the Philadelphia Flyers dropped their 2nd consecutive game by a score of 3-1.


The Flyers finish off their back-to-back set by revisiting their nightmares on Long Island as they face-off against the New York Islanders once more (7:30pm ET, NBCSP+).

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